The Saga of the Leaky Roof

So, it seems that the “Saga of the Leaky Roof” is nearly at an end. Praise the Lord!

Yesterday my APCD was up to visit from Pretoria, which ended up being perfect for two reasons: one being a grant I’m writing that she needs to look over, and the other being my leaky roof that I need fixed. You might remember a post or two on this whole leaking roof thing (actually, I thought I had written two posts about it already, only to go back and find none), and it has caused me a considerable amount of stress over the last few weeks. Last night I was up until 2am dealing with an internal deluge of rain.

So my roof leaks. Not a drip-drip trickle. A constant downpour of water from a wooden beam, numerous drip-drip-DRIP-PLUNK leaks, and crying walls. It takes 2 containers and three basins to manage this, one being my huge laundry/bath basin. It means disrupted nights and preoccupied days. And a constant worry about when the next rain is coming. Even now, the sky is filling with clouds. Sigh.

We had a guy over last week to fix the holes. He got up on the roof and laughed. It seems that my roof dips in the middle, causing water to collect there and eventually pour into my room. Sometimes over my bed. Without taking off and essentially replacing the whole room, it’s unfixable.

However, yesterday I saw the light at the end of the tunnel. My APCD came and checked it out, and we decided I would move. A whole 10 meters to the rondeval next to my room!

A rondeval is a circular thatched roof house that is what most people envision houses in Africa to be. I’m actually kind of excited to move into it. Because the roof is high up and thatched, it’s quiet, doesn’t leak, and is COOL in the summer (praise the Lord again). It’s huge, and just a cool place to live. Some small repairs have to be done before I move in, and burglar bars have to be installed. But hopefully over the weekend a good portion of that can be done.

No more leaky roof. It’s somewhat of a trade-off because I might get more critters in the rondeval (spiders, mosquitos, lizards, and bats), but I can handle those. If anything, they make for very interesting (blog) stories!

-Jen

Prov Con

Midway through my service, PCSA started having provincial conferences, or Prov Cons, as they came to be known. They are weekend long, optional, volunteer led conferences. No PC staff, and the volunteers pay their own way, with a little help for food from our VSN committee. They were started as a way to help PCVs from different cohorts meet and network with each other.

Being in North West Province, which only had SA24 (no other cohorts), we never had a prov con. We just did our own thing in Kuruman on holidays like Thanksgiving and Cinco de Mayo. ūüôā

However, now that I’m living in Limpopo, where there are volunteers from SA23, 24, 25, 27, and 28, plus the 26s from Mpumalanga….I finally got a chance to attend a Prov Con last weekend. I lucked out because it happened to be held in my shopping town, Tzaneen, at a great backpackers called Satvik Backpackers. About 50 PCVs from both Limpopo and Mpumalanga came, and I was lucky enough to get one of the nice Chalet rooms, complete with an outdoor shower.

Seriously, taking a hot shower at midnight with only the African sky above you is an amazing experience. I’m considering building on at site. Or rather, I wish one would just appear at my house.

I ended up meeting my site mate in the morning to discuss a project we’re doing together at her school, and we left for Tzaneen around noon. We spent some time wandering around town and meeting up with various groups of PCVs on their way to the backpackers, and got some amazing Pakistani food at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in town. Literally, R25 and I was stuffed to the gills. That’s $2.50 for a full meal.

The other two volunteers with me couldn’t believe I had never eaten Pakistani food before. They were both from the West Coast, so I had to remind them about the overall lack of diversity in the Midwest. ūüôā

We got to the backpackers a little before 5pm, and headed down to the Tzaneen Dam which bordered the property. Despite the warning that crocodiles live in the water, and the knowledge that hippos are all over this area, several of us went swimming. I waited until several volunteers had swum out a ways before getting in….kind of like how penguins push some unlucky guy off the cliff first to see if the seals are waiting below. We had a blast swimming, since it was a dreadfully hot day. Nobody got eaten, either. Though I’m sure we all got Schisto.

Saturday was spent having sessions led by volunteers. Nothing was set in stone beforehand, and those of us who had experience with a specific project got up and shared. I talked about permagardening, moringa, the warden system, and Souns, among other things. This was really beneficial to the newest group, SA28, who had just arrive at site in September, as they could hear about any manner of projects they might get involved with throughout their service. It was nice to chat and network with volunteers who are doing similar things to me. Plus, we got to swim a bit more during lunch break.

That night we had a potluck and braai. I brought beetroot to share, figuring a typical South African dish ought to be served. There were salads galore, salsa, guacamole, cakes, cookies, chakalaka, pasta, chips, veggies, fruit salad…..all sorts of delicious things, plus hotdogs, hamburgers, and chicken. I ate too much food, but since it was all delicious, it was ok. ūüôā I spent the rest of the night talking with various volunteers, and had another nighttime outdoor shower.

On Sunday we got up and ate leftovers. For breakfast, I had Niknaks (cheetos), cake, a few cookies, and coffee. Very healthy, I know. The owners of the backpackers came to meet with us, and it was great hearing from them. They are super supportive of PC and I look forward to visiting again. After that, we headed to town in small groups and did a bit of shopping. I got some pizza with some PCVs and did grocery shopping, then headed back to site with my site mate. I spent the rest of Sunday relaxing and preparing for the week ahead.

I was wonderful to get together with so many other volunteers. Though I had technically met almost all of the PCVs, I didn’t now them that well. But now I have a few new friends and look forward to hanging out with more of the Tzaneen cluster, since I actually know who they are now!

I can’t wait until the next Prov Con!
-Jen

How I Didn’t Learn the Xitsonga Word for Bat

Remember a few months back, when I posted a terrifying and hilarious story about a bat in my room, and how that taught me how to say bat in Setswana?  No, well then, you can read it here.

Last night, I was sleeping soundly beneath my mosquito net when I woke up right around midnight, and hear something going bump in the night….er…swoosh in the night, really. ¬†I had hear the squeaking of bats in my walls for awhile now, so I was pretty sure I knew what it was. ¬†I worked up the courage to stick my arm out from under my net and turn my solar lamp on, and didn’t see anything. ¬†Of course, the light isn’t that strong, so I lit a candle then hopped out of bed to crouch-run to my light. ¬†There was nothing, no flapping, no swooshing. ¬†Nothing. ¬†I went back and sat on my bed (under my net) for a few minutes, wondering if anything would appear. ¬†Right when I was thinking I must be crazy, the lights flicker and I hear a swooshing.

Yup, there was a bat. ¬†My first thought was that my family has been gone for the holiday, and it’s midnight. ¬†I have to deal with this alone. ¬†My second thought was that I could just tuck my mosquito net in tight and deal with it in the morning. ¬†After a quick Facebook post (if I died fighting the bat, I wanted people to know how I died), and an almost instantaneous response from my sister, full of encouragement, I crept slowly out from under my net and began to pull on protective gear. ¬†The bat was hanging upside down above my bed, so it gave me a chance to put on a fleece jacket (zipped up at high as possible), wrap my hair up in a scarf (who wants to have a bat caught up in their hair??), and my leather gardening gloves, I grabbed my broom and SMACK, hit him full on.

Mr. Bat hanging on my mosquito net....not cool, dude, not cool.

Mr. Bat hanging on my mosquito net….not cool, dude, not cool.

Of course, he didn’t die then. ¬†But I think I broke his wing, which made things a lot easier. ¬†After about 10 more minutes of battle, which involved my mop, broom, flashlight, and a can of baked beans, I finally managed to kill the critter. ¬†I always feel bad for killing bats, as they perform a wonderful function for their ecosystem, but there were a few practical reasons he had to die.

Firstly, I live in one room, and while big, it’s like a dorm room. ¬†You live peacefully in a dorm room with a bat and tell me how that goes. ¬†Secondly, I couldn’t trap him in a bucket or butterfly net because my buckets were full of water and where in the world would I get a butterfly net in rural Africa? ¬†Thirdly, and most importantly, I am still scarred from the time my mom took me to the doctor to get a rabies shot after she had a bad encounter with a bat.

Since my host family wasn’t able to help me, I didn’t learn the word for bat in Xitsonga. ¬†But I did feel a sense of accomplishment that I managed to deal with it myself.

-Jen

BTW, in case you were wondering-the can of baked beans was dropped on the bat from waist height with the intention of crushing him to death. ¬†It was only partially effective….I need to work on my aim.

Last Few Vacation Pics

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Dad wasn’t happy that I was perched on the edge of this cliff.

So for your enjoyment, here are a few more pics from my Dad’s visit to SA. ¬†And then I swear I’ll update about the last month of my life.

 

 

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Cool birds at Kruger.

Rhino!  They were pretty far away from us, but it was great to see them....they are in grave danger due to poaching here.

Rhino! They were pretty far away from us, but it was great to see them….they are in grave danger due to poaching here.

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Bourke’s Luck Potholes

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Dad at the top of the world, AKA God’s Window.

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Feeding a Hippo and Zooming Through Trees

Dad and I quickly realized how short his trip to SA was.  After our safari day in Kruger, he only had 3 nights left in country!  On our was back down to the Graskop area, we made a short detour to do something extremely unique: visit Jessica the Hippo and interact with one of the most dangerous animal species in Africa!

 

Now, Jessica is a semi-domesticated hippo that was rescued after a flood about 13 years ago. ¬†Her “family” will tell you she’s still completely wild, but wild hippos do not eat bread and sweetened rooibos tea….I had mixed feelings about the visit for several reasons, and was horrified at the “funny” (aka extremely offensive and racist) story the host told us about a local printer. ¬†However, it was really cool to get up close and personal with a hippo, including feeding her, giving her some tea, kissing her, and giving her a back massage. ¬†I’m fairly sure this is a VERY unique experience, and was worth the money. ¬†For kids, it would be an amazing and once in a lifetime experience….heck, it was still that for my Dad and I.

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After shrugging off our slight misgivings about Jessica the Hippo, we continued on down the Panoramic Route and stopped off at the Three Rondevals, Bourke’s Luck Potholes, and God’s Window. ¬†The fog because extremely dense at God’s Window, so the employees let us in for free. ¬†Though we didn’t get to see the view, we did get to play around a bit on a slightly flooded and sparsely maintained rainforest trail.

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Our last big adventure was ziplining, which we did in Hazy View. ¬†There weren’t a whole lot of ziplines in Limpopo, but this one made up for that. ¬†It was a 3 hour, 9 line, 1.6km long zipline course. ¬†And WOW was it fun! ¬†I had been ziplining before, but this one was longer and a bit more…rugged than the last. ¬†Very African, but in a good way. ¬†The one I did on the Garden Route in 2011 was more strict, straight-laced, and formal feeling than this one….but I still felt 100% safe. ¬†Our guides were great, and our small group of 8 or so people were a fun bunch. ¬†One lady was pretty afraid at first, but seemed to have a blast. ¬† I fully intend to do another zipline in SA, and would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone! ¬†

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The day after ziplining, we headed back to Pretoria. ¬†On the way we stopped at the Sudwala Caves. ¬†I was a little let down by this attraction….the tours were tame, with big groups and lost of kids, and the guy talked extremely fast….I had to translate the English for Dad, and I even struggled to catch some things. ¬†It would be fun for kids, but it was underwhelming, though a nice break in the drive back.

 

Dad left the day before Easter, and I swear the saddest place in the world might be the airport departure gate. ¬†Or else the lonely Gautrain ride back to Pretoria. ¬†ūüôā ¬†He’s already talking about coming back, and my Mom wants to as well. ¬†Guess who is excited for that?! ūüėÄ

-Jen

Kruger Safari Photos

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Some monkeys walking down the road in Kruger….African traffic jam. Actually this happened to us outside Kruger too.

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Dad perched on the edge of a cliff.

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Zebras always make me laugh a bit.

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Elephant herd.

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Elephant going for a walk.

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So many impala!! This was only a small section of the herd.

I might post more pictures later, if my internet cooperates.

-Jen